Baby Steps In Meal Planning

Despite my possession of a strong love for both organization and cooking, I’ve never been good at meal planning. I’ve been terrible at it, really.

The type of people who can plan their meals for the coming week, shop for the necessary ingredients on Sunday, and then pull it all off astonish me. I’m going to blame it on our schedules, but I really do think that’s a big contributing factor. We often don’t know our weeknight schedules for a given week on the Sunday before. He spends lots of time working on Fulton & Roark stuff after work, and I keep busy with freelance interviews and writing, which take place after hours. This means that most weeknights Kevin and I are in “fend for yourself mode.” We don’t eat together, much less eat the same meal.

But I want to get better about cooking on weeknights, and being thoughtful about it while also efficient. (I should have made that a New Year’s resolution! Consider it officially added to the list.) And so I decided to start planning some meals for the week, knowing that some nights we’d be able to eat together and some we wouldn’t. I want to pick recipes that work well as leftovers, so in case neither of us end up being home for dinner we can enjoy the meal the next day for lunch.

So far, I’m enjoying this change-up in my weeknight cooking routine! I hunted down some tasty, healthy, and quick-to-prepare (which is a must) recipes from sources like Better Homes & Gardens, Cooking Light, and Real Simple, and we’ve loved everything so far. I wanted to share a handful or recipes with you readers in case you’re looking for some new options to enjoy for dinner. (I know I always love hearing about recipes others have approved!)

Orange and Tomato Simmered Chicken with Couscous (via Cooking Light)

I modified this recipe a bit from the Cooking Light version, subbing out the cous cous for brown rice (because that’s what we had in our pantry), and opted for boneless chicken rather than bone-in. I also doubled the amount of carrots and olives they recommended. I’d never used fresh fennel before, and am now a huge fan. It worked SO well in this dish (both the bulb, which you cook for this dish, and the fronds, which are used as a delicious garnish). Now I’m on the hunt for more fennel recipes. (Got any good ones to send my way?)

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Greens, Cannellini Beans, And Andouille Sausage Pan Stew (via Better Homes and Gardens)

If there’s one thing Kevin and I can’t get enough of, it’s leafy greens, so this hearty stew — made with the chicken sausage of your choice — was right up our alley. We LOVED this dish (didn’t have any leftovers — oops), and I loved the fact that it contained so few ingredients. I used the garlic chicken sausage Trader Joe’s sells and also added an extra clove of garlic and topped this dish with hot sauce (because that’s how the Kellers roll).

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Maple Glazed Salmon (via Real Simple) paired with Caribbean-Style Roast Cabbage with Carrots (Cooking Light)

Kevin talks about how he used to think he didn’t like cabbage, because he’d only ever had it boiled and bland tasting as a kid. But, as it turns out, cabbage is DELICIOUS — and this side dish is a perfect representation of its great taste potential. I found this cabbage recipe over the holidays and immediately knew it was something we’d like. I just had to find something to pair it with, and then when I saw this maple glazed salmon recipe from Real Simple, I knew we had a winner. (I was right.) We will definitely be making this meal again — so easy and incredibly delicious. (I mean, come on. The salmon glaze has a whopping total of four ingredients, including salt and pepper! That’s my kind of recipe.)

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